Unharvested Corn Is Latest Blow from Growing Season

Heavy snow in parts of the northern U.S. could prevent some farmers from harvesting the rest of their corn and soybeans until 2020 in the latest weather-related blow to growers, notes the Longview News-Journal.

Initially, flooding from torrential rains delayed spring seeding and prompted record amounts of acres to go unplanted this year. As of late November, the U.S. corn harvest was just 84% completed, the slowest rate in a decade. If crops are abandoned in fields until the spring, that’s likely to further tighten supplies at a time when cash prices are already on the rise.

“Very few have started harvesting corn and many, including myself, will not harvest corn until next spring,” Monte Peterson, who grows corn and soy in Valley City, N.D., told the News-Journal. Peterson is also a director of the American Soybean Association. North Dakota was the furthest behind on harvesting among major state producers, with just 30% of corn gathered as of late November, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Chicago-based consultant AgResource Co. estimated that as many as 2.4 billion bushels of U.S. corn were still in fields as of Thanksgiving Day. Fields that go unharvested until spring could see yield losses of 20% to 40%, according to the consultancy. USDA estimates this year’s U.S. corn crop will total 13.7 billion bushels.

The harsh weather also had a knock-off effect on other markets. For example, high moisture content in grain and cold temperatures contributed to delivery delays for propane, used widely to dry corn and heat structures. In response, the Houston-based pipeline operator Enterprise Products Partners indefinitely extended a shipping rate for Texas-to-Illinois propane.

Observed was that it’s not just corn and soybeans experiencing problems. There will be fewer harvested acres of spring wheat, sugar beets, and potatoes owing to wet weather. The USDA’s week Crop Progress report had been scheduled to conclude the 2019 season at the end of November, but due to delays in harvest progress officials early this month were evaluating how long it needs to continue.

(SOURCE: The Weekly Propane Newsletter, December 16, 2019. Available by subscription)